Confirmation came this morning, like a brilliant ray of sunshine screaming through a cloud cover. Taylor Hall, local hero with icon rising, is back from injuries suffered from his latest battle with iron. Across the city, on twitter, in the malls and cafes and donair shops, excitement began to build. The team had learned a thing or two about winning in his absence, but the King is back and it’s time to roll!
A quick glance at the forward group points out Hall’s value AND gives us an idea about the Nuge’s good work in No. 4’s time away. A few other items from this graph:
- There are four men over 2.00/60 at 5×5, it has to be very tempting for Dallas Eakins to keep the top line ‘as is’ and run Hall with another set.
- David Perron isn’t scoring, but the offense is there. I wonder if placing him with Arco and Hall might help the veteran winger. Of course, Perron and Yak have been playing well together, so maybe not.
- The Corsi’s are dancing this season. Dallas Eakins’ deployment of that 4line to take on the monsters under the bed (well, own-zone starts) is really benefiting.
- I remain convinced Leon Draisaitl is a draft winner (maybe the only one from the 2014 Oilers edition) but he owns an 84% offensive zone-start and is scoring at basically 1/1. I think 1.50 is defensible, but if he can’t turn this around it behooves Craig MacTavish to make a move before an entire season of development is gone.
- Pakarinen! Finns! I swear they count double.
Amen. Nuge can push the river now, we saw that with Hall out, and two scoring lines appears possible for the first time in exactly forever. A center will be required for the Hall line and that will probably be discussed for the rest of the season—for some reason the Oilers are officially stubborn on bringing in an actual NHL center and we have to sit here until they show us how smart they are—but the makings of something special offensively have arrived well before Christmas.
I don’t know what to say about the power play. Maybe call a priest? Craig MacTavish used to run the worst power plays in history when he was coach, so maybe he’s giving some advice? As someone who has no idea how to fix it, allow me to jump in with some advice. FIND the guy who can hammer the Nuge’s passes, and then work on that for a day or two. I fear we’ll see Brad Hunt again if this isn’t fixed soon.
The Edmonton Oilers are a team in the NHL. By my count, they have two guys on blue (Petry, Fayne) the coach can count on, and two more (Ference, Aulie) Eakins is finding a role for this season. With the announcement this afternoon that Oscar Klefbom has been sent down (along with Finn Pakarinen) it falls to Martin Marincin to force his way into the lineup. At this point, I think the No. 1 candidate for replacement is Niki Nikitin, although your mileage may vary.
A NICE STORY ABOUT TWO GOOD MEN
Sarah McLellan of The Arizona Republic has a story up today about Sam Gagner and Joey Moss. It’s a little about Gagner’s transition but it’s also about Moss and his relationship with these Oilers and the ones who have come before.
Gagner: “Even when things weren’t going great, he made it a positive day at the
rink, and I’ll remember Joey and be telling Joey stories forever.”
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers give up two quick goals and spend forever clawing back to even. Late in the third period, Taylor Hall winds up in his own zone, goes super nova and does something electric and memorable. 3-2 Oil, with Sam Gagner scoring one and Devan Dubnyk playing well.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers have some wobbly bits in their own end, but find a way this day. It is the only thing Jordan Eberle can call a success, as his beloved Roughriders were humbled earlier by a superior Eskimos team.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:
The power play explodes! Well, they get one goal.